Now that another youth hockey season is about to begin, the annual lamenting about the cost of the game gives rise to the topic of what exactly a young hockey player needs in the area of protective equipment.rnrnHere in northern Minnesota, where ice time is available duiring the winter months on any of the outdoor rinks, many parents bring their kids to the rink to sign up for the youth hockey programs.rnrnI had three boys that all played hockey at the famed Lower Chester facility in the heart of the city of Duluth. My oldest, now 30 began playing and skating with not much more than a pair of choppers, snowpants and a helmet with face mask. As my time progressed in the youth program while my younger ones came along, I saw a distinct change in the level of equipment worn by young players entering the program. So much so, that when I signed my youngest up at least three quarters of the kids were wearing full equipment for their first year of organized hockey. rnrnI never could understand this as I know through experience, it is much harder to teach a young player to coordinate on the ice with a boatload of equipment on. When I mentioned to some of the parents that they dial back some of the protective equipment they were putting on their children, I was met with disbelief that some one of my background (former NHL player) would advocate for less equipment.rnrnMy reasoning however is right I believe. When we are sending our young ones off to ride their bikes down the street or at the local playground we outfit them in a helmet and admonish them to be safe out there. While at the same time, while they are traveling at much lower rates of speed on their skates, we load them down with equipment.rnrnI believe it makes it much harder for them to learn how to skate with good coordination. So let's take a little of the stuff off and let them loose. Another good point to adhere to is the use of a wooden stick at the younger ages. The advantages of a composite stick really don't come into play until players are older. And so much of the game is played with "feel". The wooden stick gives our young players the feel of the puck much more than the newer varities.rnrnTry some of my ideas and watch the progress that your young hockey player makes and watch the amount of money that you end up saving with a little forethought. See you on the pond!